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The first definitive biography of Henry Aaron—baseball’s great home-run champion and one of its most enduring legends.
As the steroid controversy has increasingly tarnished baseball’s image, Hank Aaron’s achievements have come to seem all the more remarkable: the first player to pass Babe Ruth in home runs, Aaron held that record for thirty-three years while shattering other records (RBIs, total bases, extra-base hits) and setting new ones (hitting at least thirty home runs per season fifteen times). But his achievements run much deeper than his stats. Chronicling the social upheavals of the years during which Aaron played (1954 to 1976), Howard Bryant shows us how the dignity and determination with which he stood against racism—on and off the field, and as one of the first blacks in baseball’s upper management—helped transform the role and significance of the professional black athlete and turn Aaron into an national icon.
Eloquently written, detailed, and penetrating, this is a revelatory portrait of both the great ballplayer and the complicated private man.
“Just when it seemed as if all the great baseball subjects had been done, Howard Bryant checks in with this biography of Henry Aaron…. Bryant is a great writer for a great subject.… Mr. Aaron's story is the epic baseball tale of the second half of the 20th century.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Brawny…. The Last Hero had the forceful sweep of a well-struck essay as much as that of a first-rate biography.” —The New York Times
"No one was more important to the game of baseball in the last half of the 20th Century than Henry Aaron and no one writes about that supremely talented man, that tumultuous time and this treasure of a game better than Howard Bryant. Together, they are an extraordinary combination, and the book Bryant has written gets to the heart of the complicated and dignified, patient and consistent genuine hero that is Henry Aaron." —Ken Burns, filmmaker
”Not just another book on Hank’s prodigious ability to elevate baseballs over the fences…the postcareer exploits of Aaron will inspire all readers. Bryant evokes the apparently distant world marked by cruel segregation, racism, and poverty of the soul, as well as reliving some of the greatest moments of baseball. A most welcome book, most highly recommended.” —Library Journal
“Illuminating and rigorously researched.” —New York Times Book Review
“Bryant makes the most of every minute with Aaron, placing the Brave’s accomplishments on the diamond solidly in the context of the 1954 to 1976 world in which he played.” —Atlanta Magazine, “The Shelf”
“Beautifully written and culturally important …[The Last Hero] tells the Aaron story with gusto and a ferocious sweep.” —The Washington Post
“Bryant lets Aaron’s accomplishments speak for themselves in this long-overdue, thoughtful biography that stands as one of the most impressive profiles of a ballplayer in years.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“[Bryant’s] examination of Aaron is the best baseball biography to come along in years, a work that fuses the storytelling acumen of a David Halberstam with the sensitivity for race and sport embodied by writers such as Dave Zirin and William Rhoden…For readers eager to know the man behind the numbers and the footage, Bryant hits one out of the park.” —The Bay State Banner
“Confident and brawny. . . . Astriking and elegiac assessment of race relations in America.” —Dwight Garner’s Top 10 Books of 2010, New York Times
“Bryant lets Aaron’s accomplishments speak for themselves in this thoughtful and long-overdue biography.” —San Francisco Chronicle